Summer doesn’t actually end until Sept. 21, but school starting signals the unofficial end of the season. The waning summer months coupled with the start of a new school year and the beginning of fall sports practice mean children will be walking to and from school in the days and weeks ahead.
Drivers need to exercise patience and caution, especially in school zones.
While most of the responsibility for traffic safety rests with drivers, following simple guidelines may help children navigate the sidewalks to school.
Children need to be aware of their responsibilities as pedestrians and the potential dangers and hazards that can impede their safe passage to and from school. Oftentimes children lack the necessary skills to be able to properly judge traffic and safety.
Among children ages five to 14, pedestrian related injury is the second leading cause of death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2003 nearly 400 pedestrians and 130 bicyclists between the ages of 0-14 lost their lives in traffic accidents. Most pedestrian- involved traffic accidents for this age group occur after school between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Children who will be walking to school need parents to remind them of safety rules. A great source for parents can be found at www.usa.safekids.org/wtw/.
Safe Kids Walk This Way is a program created by FedEx and Safe Kids Worldwide. They have put together a list of child pedestrian safety rules that may be helpful.
1. Cross the street at the corner or at a crosswalk if there is one, and obey all traffic signals.
2. Walk on a sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic.
3. Walk with an adult until you are at least 10 years old.
4. Only cross in front of a school bus when the driver says it is safe. Do not cross behind the bus or where the driver can’t see you.
5. Hold an adult’s hand when you cross the street. Look left, right and left again before you cross and keep looking both ways until you reach the other side.
6. If you walk when it is dark, wear light-colored clothing or clothing with reflective material so drivers can see you. A flashlight is also a good idea.
7. If a toy or pet goes out into the street, ask an adult for help getting it back.
8. When you are outside playing, play in a backyard or playground away from the street or parking lots.